• Megan Parent

How to Steal an Honest Company's Money and Get Away With It

In this week's installment of “How to Steal an Honest Company's Money and Get Away With It”, one of the most famous search engines to date, Google, was served with more than a basket of chocolate covered fruit from a company out of Connecticut called Edible Arrangements.

Edible Arrangements ®, is an online and franchise company specializing in gift fruit arrangements and baskets. Since its establishment in 1999, the company has blossomed into one of the most popular fruit-bouquet services in the United States and beyond. A major part of their success can undoubtedly be attributed to their online advertising and marketing presence. Edible Arrangements clearly has a solid plan on how to appeal to their customers by taking multi-channel analytics and interpreting the information that comes from them to better serve their customers. They do this through the use of services such as Google Ad Analytics, programmatic geotargeting and keyword optimization. This is impressive because Edible Arrangements is an online “gifting” service which can be difficult due to the fact that the true recipient of services never come face to face with the company.

In light of Edible Arrangement’s success, other competing companies have started piggy-backing off of their campaign by using Edible Arrangement’s trademarked name in their own marketing strategy as a main keyword(s) associated with their business. Keyword Optimization can be the holy-grail of online marketing campaigns because by carefully selecting what keywords are associated with your business, it most likely can optimize your chances of your ad getting clicked on and traffic being directed towards your website.

In early February, Edible Arrangements decided to file a suit against the almighty Google by claiming that they allowed competing companies to use their trademarked company name as a keyword in their Google Ads. This basically means that when you search “Edible Arrangements”, you might also be seeing links to rival companies such as 1-800-Flowers and Shari’s Berries. This is a potential problem because it causes other companies to benefit from Edible Arrangements trademarked company name in order to get more online traffic and undoubtedly can lead to the company eventually obtaining higher revenue.

Currently, Google’s AdWord Policy states that it does not “investigate or restrict trademarks as keywords.” This means that a company can use another company’s trademarked name in their designated keywords, and it can only be regulated if someone makes an official complaint. THEN and only then will Google re-evaluate the use and whether it is trademark infringement. This poses a huge problem for small business owners who may not be equipped either financially or with the knowledge, or both, to deal with this issue. In most cases, and most likely in the present case, competitor companies use a trademarked keyword in order to confuse and disorient the potential customer, leaving them confused as to who is affiliated with who. Business owners launching a social media/online campaign should be weary of this tactic that is so commonly used and not so commonly punished. It can potentially take away time and money that could be directed to your company, but instead it has to be spent protecting and defending your brand.

Precautions you can take as a business owner with a trademarked name are as follows:

  1. Choose a unique name for your company, this eliminates any confusion about whether the name is a trademarked term or just a generic phrase.

  2. Read the terms of use policy for Google’s AdWords program, or any other search engine you are placing an ad on. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into can aid in recognizing when something just doesn’t seem right. Knowing is half the battle, right?

  3. Research your competitors. Knowing their online campaign strategies can benefit you by allowing you to create a unique website.

  4. Make use of the promotion and ad features on other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Arbitration was granted in the case at bar, so it will be interested to see what side the arbitrators come out on this one. All in all, small businesses and entrepreneurs should be more wary of their marketing campaigns and must stay vigilant in protecting themselves from big corporations.

Meet Brooke Massicotte -

Brooke joined our team in the summer of 2018 and now works as our office intern. Currently, she is a Junior at Suffolk University in Downtown Boston where she majors in Pre-Law and American Government. As an avid user of social media herself, she understands the importance of having an active social media presence and how it can change the dynamics of a business. She also provides insight on how to appeal to potential clients on social media in order to expose our firm and get our name out there. Using these skills, she writes for our blog and manages our social media pages. In her free time, she’s an avid reader with a specific interest in history. She also loves to experience new cultures and travel the world as she has been to several states such as California, Florida, Alabama, South Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, Michigan and New York. She has also been to two foreign countries where she travelled to Montellano, Dominican Republic and Yucatán, Mexico! 

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